Sergeant William South has always avoided investigating murder. A passionate birdwatcher and quite man, he has few relationships and prefers it that way.
But when his only friend is found brutally beaten, South's detachment is tested. Not only is he bereft - it seems that there's a connection between the suspect and himself.
For South has a secret. He knows the kind of rage that killed his friend. He knows the kind of man who could do it. He knows, because Sergeant William South is a murderer.
Moving from the storm-lashed, bird-wheeling skies of the Kent Coast to the wordless war of the Troubles, The Birdwatcher is a crime novel of suspense, intelligence and powerful humanity about fathers and sons, grief and guilt and facing the darkness within.
The Birdwatcher is the first book by William Shaw which I have read, I was so excited when I finally got round to reading it. I was captivated by the opening paragraph, which has to be one of the best openings to a book I’ve read. ‘There were two reasons why William South did not want to be on the murder team. The first was that it was October. The migrating birds had begun arriving on the coast. The second was that, though nobody knew it, he was a murderer himself.’ How can you fail to be hooked? Bravo on the great opening, William!
The novel is told over two timelines, in the present day when William South is serving as a police officer in Kent and when he is growing up in the 70s in Northern Ireland during the troubles. I found both timelines gripping, but particularly when William is younger. In the present day one of his closest friends has been found murdered and William finds himself reluctantly caught up in the investigation when the new DS, Alexandra Cupidi asks for his help. She is using the fact that William knew the man who has been murdered to the case’s advantage in the hope of finding a quick resolution.
I loved Alex’s character, personally I think she was my favourite character in the book, I’m hoping that William may return to Alex in a later book as I would like to find out more about her. Her daughter Zoe was also interesting, particularly as she began to develop a friendship with William through bird watching. I really liked the use of William South’s hobby in this book which added a sense of calm to the story, which is probably what William South sometime needs.
A really great read, a must read for crime lovers, this book is perfect for you to take away on holiday, I’ll certainly be looking out for more of William’s books.
Publication date: 9th February 2017
Print length: 400 pages